In this course we are working with the text Jewel Mirror Samadhi Song. This text can be interpreted in many ways. We are going to look at it in the perspective of counselling and psychotherapy. These notes should therefore be taken in conjunction with the text and commentary.
We began with some introductions. In particular looking at what we each need to advance our skill and understanding. There is a value in continually reviewing and assessing one’s ‘learning edge”. What do I need to learn now? What kind of clients do I find it easy/difficult to work with? What does that tell me about myself as a counsellor? Or about myself in life? We are all vulnerable to the paralysis that comes from self-consciousness. We have all got habits of communication, learnt from our socialisation, that may not be optimum for counselling. We have inhibitions about particular emotions, particular issues, particular types of relationship. To counsel effectively we need flexibility. There are many kinds of people, many kinds of psychological issue, many styles of approaching counselling.
Because something works with one client does not mean that it will necessarily work with the next one.
The Title: Jewel Mirror Samadhi Song
What is meant by jewel mirror samadhi? Samadhi is concentration, so a state in which one is not scattered nor distracted. When one is not distracted by personal attachments one can be wholly concentrated upon the other. Thus the state of the therapist is a kind of samadhi. When this is the case, the inside of the therapist is, in a certain way, dark, just like the back of a mirror. Because I am shining my light upon the client and his world and not illumining my own concerns, I become a kind of mirror. This is an automatic effect. The mirror is a mechanism with no moving parts. I am not trying to be a mirror and not exercising a technique called reflection. Simply, because I am “dark” inside, all my attention going to the client, I can’t help being a mirror. In as much as this really is the case, I become an instance of the mythical mani jewel: the treasure that responds to just what the client needs.
Client talked about getting old, having limited time and the difficulty of making the best decisions. We talked about counselling technique
- how to get beyond just being polite
- how to get in earlier, quicker
- what to do with theories and hunches
- how to express strong feelings one has as counsellor either (a) due to resonance with the feelings of the client or (b) due to the love and care one feels for the client.
- when to share one’s own personal feelings about an issue,
- what happens when one responds spontaneously
The mirror does not wait until it has built up a theory. It responds immediately and then moves on. It gives something back straight away, but does not hold on to it. It is free to receive the next impression.
We looked at the first five lines of the text, as per the commentary. The emphasis here is upon improving our ability to read the spontaneous signs and stay with the reality as it is, irrespective of what it may be and whether we fully understand it or not. The counsellor is often well advised the respond even before having complete understanding. the client needs signs that he has been heard and that the therapist is trying hard to stay with him even before the therapist really understands. “The meaning is not in the words, it is in the spontaneous response” works in both directions. The therapist understands things from the involuntary movements, tone of voice, signs of emotion and so on of the client; but it is also true that the client knows whether or not the therapist is with him, empathic, honest, and so on, from similar signs. If the therapist is impassive, she cannot be a functioning mirror for the client.
The text also says “Now you have it so guard well.” Everything that is needed appears at the right time. At every point in the therapy, the client has already given everything that the counsellor actually needs. If we feel stuck or confused it is because there is something one has not listened to properly or not observed carefully enough. If this is the case, it is probably because one has had too strong a fixed idea which is blinding us to seeing evidence that tells us something different.
Counselling Practice in Threes
Counsellor, client, observer. 15 minute sessions followed by feedback.